Less than two weeks ago I laid out why airlines need to extend elite status again and start fresh next year with customers. Already we’re seeing that: Air Canada Aeroplan has just announced all elite status is being extended through the end of 2022.
That means instead of trying to re-earn elite status in 2021, during the pandemic, with many travel restrictions in place, and business travel grounded, customers will keep their status when they start flying next year.
Aeroplan also won’t expire miles this year, having paused expiration through January 31, 2022. This isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.
- Customers interested in the Aeroplan program are valuable and costly to acquire. By pausing mileage expiration they avoid ‘firing’ those customers and encouraging them to start over with a competitor program (or not at all).
- High frequency business travelers aren’t going to be in the air much this year. Business travel could start in the back half of the year, but by then it’s too late for most to re-earn their status and how much long haul flying will even be possible? These are the last customers you’d want to lose. They won’t all come back, but extending status for the ones who don’t isn’t that costly and worth the best on a portfolio basis.
Of course Aeroplan members can still earn higher status than what they currently hold. And the program will give choice benefits again to elites at the start of next year, even if status is extended rather than re-earned.
Unused Priority Reward vouchers earned in 2020 will be extended through October 2020 later this year. 2021 eUpgrades won’t be extended, but new eUpgrades will be issued in 2022. And since one of the 2021 choice benefits was reduced requalification for next year, anyone who selected that will be allowed to re-select (details on process to follow).
For anyone who earns status through the usual means this year (25,000 miles or 25 segments plus 3000 qualifying dollars / 1500 for non-Canadian residents) will have their qualifying miles, segments, and qualifying dollars earned this year count towards qualifying in 2022 as well. This is in addition to rollover status miles which elites with eligible co-brand credit cards qualify for – so some 2021 flying can count twice towards earning status in 2021.
I don’t expect to see quite as generous approach from U.S. airlines, though I think it would make sense. American Airlines has been cold calling elite members to sell them qualiying miles. Presumably extending status would mean having to return this money.